Action! The Films of Raoul Walsh, Part 3
July 4–September 14
"Cinema is movement.
And I made it move."
ALONG THE GREAT DIVIDE
Part 3 concludes AFI Silver’s Raoul Walsh retrospective, with his 1950s adventure epics and provocative melodramas, featuring indelible performances by leading men Gary Cooper, Clark Gable and then-rising stars Gregory Peck and Kirk Douglas, plus Jane Russell in one of her finest roles.
Along with John Ford, Alfred Hitchcock, Howard Hawks and William Wellman, director Raoul Walsh (1887–1980) enjoyed one of the most remarkable Golden Age careers in cinema history, having achieved greatness during the silent era, THE THIEF OF BAGDAD and WHAT PRICE GLORY being just two of his masterpieces. He acted in and/or directed nearly 100 other silent shorts and features in addition to these (most of which are now sadly lost) before successfully transitioning to sound, where he directed nearly 80 more features, retiring from acting for good after losing an eye in a freak car accident caused by a bounding jackrabbit during preparation for IN OLD ARIZONA.
Among his peers, there are those whose silent success dwarfs their work in sound (Charles Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Erich von Stroheim), and vice versa (Frank Capra). A more expansive list might include Josef von Sternberg, Allan Dwan, Fritz Lang, Ernst Lubitsch, Yasujirô Ozu, Julien Duvivier and Jean Grémillon. But none can claim careers with the length, breadth or diversity of Walsh — possibly Dwan, but in a career with few of the highs and many more lows than Walsh; and not even Ford, who debuted as a bit-part actor in 1913, the same year as Walsh. By the time of Ford's directorial debut in 1917, actor/writer/director/producer Walsh had directed dozens of films, including 1915's REGENERATION — arguably the first gangster picture.
Though often thought of as an "action" director — he directed numerous Westerns, swashbucklers and gangster films — Walsh's multi-faceted career also included efforts in genres as diverse as musicals and dance films, historical epics and romantic melodramas. He made both flag-waving WWII films and the WWI-set WHAT PRICE GLORY, one of the key antiwar films. He directed James Cagney in both his final gangster picture (THE ROARING TWENTIES) and his comeback a decade later (WHITE HEAT). He hired a young stuntman named Marion Morrison for the lead in the 1930 epic of westward expansion, THE BIG TRAIL, and renamed him John Wayne (with another decade of seasoning, the actor eventually caught on in the genre). In PURSUED, he introduced typically urban film noir stylings — including a surfeit of psychological hokum — to a Western frontier blood feud, creating a deliriously fun "Western noir" in an impressively clever act of genre hybridization. In fact, "Depression comedy," "radio musical" and "map movie" can all be included among his many niche specialties — a career résumé that is both echt Hollywood and, with the passage of time, one that seems to be located in a very intriguing parallel universe.
A career like this defies easy summarization, and thus AFI Silver is proud to present the third of a multi-part retrospective of Raoul Walsh's greatly entertaining films.
AFI Member passes accepted at all screenings.
Featuring Kirk Douglas in his first Western, this “bullet-hard sagebrush saga” is the setting to a noir-tinged whodunit. Douglas is a federal marshal on the run, having just rescued accused murderer Walter Brennan from a lynch mob in order to take him to Santa Loma for a fair trial. Crossing the desert, they are trailed by vigilantes, including disloyal deputy — and Brennan’s own daughter — Virginia Mayo (a fille fatale?). If the desert doesn’t kill them, the mob will; and even if they make it to Santa Loma, can Brennan beat the rap?
DIR Raoul Walsh; SCR Walter Doniger, Lewis Meltzer; PROD Anthony Veiller. US, 1951, b&w, 88 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
Fri, Jul 4, 11:15 a.m.; Sat, Jul 5, 11:15 a.m.; Sun, Jul 6, 11:15 a.m.
Florida, 1840: Rookie Lt. Richard Tufts (Richard Webb) reports to the Everglades outpost of Capt. Quincy Wyatt (Gary Cooper) — “soldier, swamp man, gentleman, savage” — and gets an education in surviving the perils of snakes, alligators and warring Seminole Indians. Filmed on location in the Everglades, this film marks the debut of the “Wilhelm Scream,” a tortured shriek that would become a stock sound effect used in countless films, among them those by George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Quentin Tarantino.
DIR Raoul Walsh; SCR Niven Busch, Martin Rackin; PROD Milton Sperling. US, 1951, color, 101 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
Sat, Jul 19, 11:00 a.m.; Sun, Jul 20, 11:00 a.m.
THE TALL MEN
Brothers Ben and Clint Allison (Clark Cable and Cameron Mitchell) head to Montana hoping to find their fortune prospecting for gold. The two are tempted by the easier option of banditry after a chance meeting on the trail with four-flusher Nathan Stark (Robert Ryan), whom they try to rob. However, the smooth-talking Stark convinces them to come work for him instead, driving cattle to Texas. But after sassy Nella Turner (Jane Russell), a refugee from Indian marauders, joins the gang, love-triangular tensions arise between Ben and Stark.
DIR Raoul Walsh; SCR Sydney Boehm, Frank S. Nugent, from the novel by Heck Allen; PROD William A. Bacher, William B. Hawks. US, 1955, color, 122 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
Sat, Aug 9, 11:00 a.m.; Sun, Aug 10, 11:00 a.m.
CAPTAIN HORATIO HORNBLOWER R.N.
Gregory Peck stars as the titular character in this Napoleonic swashbuckler in the tradition of Walsh's greatest sea epics. Horatio and his 38-gun frigate HMS Lydia head to Central America to fend off the Spanish (allies of Britain’s enemy France), but when he arrives, the Spanish have switched sides, leaving Horatio at odds. Before he can retreat back to England, he’s forced to take Lady Barbara Wellesley (Virginia Mayo) to make safe passage back home. Confined to the small ship, the two fall in love, but before a happy ending is possible, Horatio must first turn his attention to Napoleon’s naval forces.
DIR/PROD Raoul Walsh; SCR Ivan Goff, Ben Roberts, Æneas MacKenzie, C. S. Forester, from Forester’s novel; PROD Gerry Mitchell. UK, 1951, color, 117 min, digital presentation. NOT RATED
Fri, Aug 22, 5:15; Sat, Aug 23, 11:00 a.m.
THE WORLD IN HIS ARMS
Gregory Peck and Anthony Quinn are rival seal hunters plying their trade between the Russian colony of Alaska and the Wild Western town of San Francisco. It’s there that Peck meets and falls in love with runaway Russian countess Ann Blyth, fleeing an impending arranged marriage to vile prince Carl Esmond. Raoul Walsh works his high-spirited adventure magic in this entertaining romp, scripted by Borden Chase (RED RIVER, WINCHESTER ’73, VERA CRUZ).
DIR Raoul Walsh; SCR Borden Chase, from the novel by Rex Beach; PROD Aaron Rosenberg. US, 1952, color, 104 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
THE REVOLT OF MAMIE STOVER
Sun, Aug 24, 11:00 a.m.; Mon, Aug 25, 2:30; Wed, Aug 27, 2:30
Hounded from her San Francisco home at the turn of the 1940s, prostitute Mamie Stover (Jane Russell, taking on a role written for Marilyn Monroe) sets sail for Hawaii intending to turn over a new leaf. Shipboard, she meets Jim (Richard Egan), a science fiction writer who treats her like a lady, and the two quickly fall in love. In need of cash, Mamie finds it harder to leave the world of prostitution behind than she imagined, and soon becomes the star attraction of a club under the stage name Flaming Mamie, while Jim enlists following the bombing of Pearl Harbor. As the years pass, Mamie’s careful attention to finances and savvy real estate investments pay off handsomely. At last, she’s a financially independent woman, but will the world ever let her be free of her past?
DIR Raoul Walsh; SCR Sydney Boehm, from the novel by William Bradford Huie; PROD Buddy Adler. US, 1956, color, 92 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
THE KING AND FOUR QUEENS
Sat, Aug 30, 11:00 a.m.; Sun, Aug 31, 11:00 a.m.; Wed, Sep 3, 7:00
Saddletramp con man Dan Kehoe (Clark Gable) arrives in a ghost town whose only other inhabitants are the women of the McDade gang: battle-axe Ma McDade (Jo Van Fleet) and her four beautiful daughters-in-law, Sabina (Eleanor Parker), Ruby (Jean Willes), Birdie (Barbara Nichols) and Oralie (Sara Shane). With most of the McDade boys killed during their last stagecoach robbery, the four young widows, thinking of their futures, each entertain flirtations with foxy Dan. But Dan’s got his eye on the real prize: where that stage loot got stashed.
DIR Raoul Walsh; SCR Richard Alan Simmons, Margaret Fitts, from her novel; PROD David Hempstead. US, 1956, color, 86 min, digital presentation. NOT RATED
Fri, Sep 5, 3:00; Sat, Sep 6, 11:10 a.m.; Sun, Sep 7, 11:10 a.m.
BAND OF ANGELS
In the antebellum South, Amantha Starr (Yvonne De Carlo), the daughter of a wealthy Louisiana plantation owner, is forced to leave behind her life of privilege when her father dies, leaving a mountain of debt and one shocking revelation: Amantha’s mother was a slave. The state law dictates that she must now be sold into slavery. Amantha escapes the clutches of the more fearsome bidders and finds a measure of relief when gentlemanly Hamish Bond (Clark Gable) makes an exorbitant bid to win her. At his New Orleans mansion, she is introduced to his staff, including Hamish’s trusted, educated foreman, Rau-Ru (Sidney Poitier). What follows is a delirious succession of forbidden romance amid the cataclysm of the Civil War, with loyalties divided, secrets revealed and passions running high.
DIR Raoul Walsh; SCR John Twist, Ivan Goff, Ben Roberts, from the novel by Robert Penn Warren. US, 1957, color, 125 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
Fri, Sep 12, 2:30; Sat, Sep 13, 11:00 a.m.; Sun, Sep 14, 11:00 a.m.